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How To Deal With His Ex

True Life Account: Dating My Ex

It all started with an email. It was short and sweet; after a few mutterings about the weather, my ex-boyfriend asked me if I wanted to have lunch. After some hesitation, I e-mailed back, agreeing. Even in the darkest days of our relationship, when I had felt like wringing his neck, he could always be counted on to make me laugh. Heck, I decided that a lunch date with my ex could actually turn out to be fun.

I wore jeans and no make-up, lest he thought I was trying too hard. I scheduled a blind date with someone else later that day, so that in case my lunch turned out an utter failure, I could at least console myself with the thought that I was meeting someone new - even if he turned out to be a drooling, cross-eyed geek.

As I stood outside the restaurant waiting, I was seized with wild, irrational fears. What if he didn't turn up? What if he turned up with another woman wrapped around him? But when my ex-boyfriend arrived, alone, in his familiar well-worn tee and jeans, with his huge playful grin, I was happily reassured. That afternoon, we did exactly the same things we had done when we were a couple.

We lunched. We browsed in the usual bookshops and record stores. We tramped about in the hot sun, talking about people we knew and places we've been to, teased each other and laughed a lot. The difference: no handholding, no physical intimacy of any sort, no difficult questions about the past, and certainly no expectation that we would meet regularly, even though we knew we were having enough fun to want to meet every now and then.

W hat yon have to keep reminding yourself, every time yon feel like pushing his buttons and flirting shamelessly, is that you're now just friends, even if you once were an item. So broach any questions about his current love life casually. And resist the temptation to go on about the new man in your life, or you'll find him stabbing agitatedly at his food. Aside from the little flashes of jealousy, dating an ex is remarkably stress-free compared to the troubled days of the relationship. That's provided

  • Both of you were honest and civil about the break-up,

  • A decent interval has lapsed,

  • The relationship wasn't based on lust so you actually have things to say to each other, and

  • You're both still willing to be nice to each other and keep in touch.

When you go out every now and then with an ex-boyfriend, yon get the good stuff without sticking around long enough for the bad. With my ex, I can rattle on without having to explain myself. I know that we'll both find the same things funny, and I can count on him to order an iced tea for me without telling him. I know that he'll be indulgent about my tardiness (having once waited for me for one hours), and we can get lost in our private world of alternative music, and Monday night comedies.

But I know only too well that if the date were extended into an indefinite commitment, all the problems of our relationship would resurface. My high-maintenance needs. His impatience and reluctance to talk about what bugs him. Our frequent fights. Neither of us is prepared to deal w ith it all over again. So I grit my teeth and get on with my life, hanging out with friends and meeting new people. And at the back of my mind, look forward to my next date with my ex. Undergrad Clarissa will try to be on time for her next date with the ex.

Keep Your Relationship

Even if your guy's ex-girlfriend is still hanging around, you can keep your relationship.

On Guard: They're Still Friends

Scenarios

My boyfriend and his ex grew up together and they've been best friends all their lives. Understandably they still hang out, but their close relationship makes me feel insecure sometimes.

What To Do?

Consider if their relationship interferes with yours: Does he break plans with you to see her? Does she call a lot when you're there? If not, hold your tongue. But if their bond does affect yours, see "Red Alert: She Wants Him Back."

Why?

You both need friends (that's technically all she is) to round out your lives. If you nag him about her, you'll seem clingy.

Red Alert: She Wants Him Back

Scenarios

Even though my guy and 1 have been dating for three months, his ex still flirts with him nonstop. She cuddles up against him, whispers in his ear, and has even tried holding his hand!

What To Do?

When you're alone with your guy, calmly say, "When your ex does [blank], I get really uncomfortable. I'd prefer if you guys weren't so intimate." If he continues to ignore this boundary, see "Warning!"

Why?

If you focus on how you feel (instead of blaming him), he'll hear you and make it clear to his ex it's over, so she'll stop.

Danger! She's Harassing You

My guy and I have been together for six months, but his cx-girlfricnd still says nasty stuff about me. She keeps a LiveJournal, in which she called me a `whore' and a `bitch'!

What To Do?

Together with your guy, go up to his ex and firmly say, "Please stop writing about me, or we'll take action." If she doesn't stop, go to for help reporting her to the relevant authorities.

Why?

Abusive situations shouldn't be handled alone. A united front will make her realise this tactic won't win him back.

Warning!

If he won't slop giving his ex signals that it's okay for bet to flirt with him, he might still like her even if he doesn't admit it. His actions show a serious lack of respect for you, and even if it hurts, that's a sign for you to move on.

 

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